So, the New England Revolution fired Jay Heaps and yesterday, while I was in Nashville, Ross County F.C. fired manager Jim McIntyre (and assistant Billy Dodds) after a very poor start to the 2017-2018 Premiership season. To be truthful, the second half of the 2016-2017 season was no great shakes either so McIntyre entered the season on borrowed time.
I think if there was any one thing (in my mind) that brought about McIntyre’s demise it was the constant, and often, incomprehensible, “tinkering” he did with the team’s line-up and formations. Players were dropped for no apparent reason, players were played out of position without any discernible purpose, and his substitution patterns seemed to have nothing to do with the quality of the substituted player’s play or the abilities of his replacement.
When changing a line-up or a formation injury and gaining a specific tactical advantage would seem to be the only times one would make changes and it never felt like the latter was Jim’s forte. Too often he seemed to be throwing eleven players on the field and hoping that they might work. In previous years when there were players like Liam Boyce and Jackson Irvine at the club it almost didn’t matter that he was doing this. But this season they are both gone and it did matter.
I would have to think that after a while McIntyre’s apparently “random” team selections/formations/substitutions would have to wear on the players on a week-to-week basis. “Am I in the team?” “Where am I playing in the team?” “Why am I playing in _______ position when I’m a ________?” That has to get old very quickly, especially when it is not leading to consistent success- or any success, for that matter.
As you know if you are a regular reader, I’m not a “fire the manager” kind of guy, but this move seemed inevitable- and needed. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better or more measured explanation for a firing than that given by club chairman Roy McGregor- take a look:
Somewhere along the line that chemistry between the manager and the players was not producing results. Home form and how you excite your fans – we are in an entertainment business – is key to football clubs.
In life, you have got to make a judgement call and I am representing both the fans and the shareholders and, at this time, we just felt that a change was required and I’d seen nothing to suggest we were going to get out of the rut we were in. We had a really poor spell up until March and we only won five games up until 1 March and three of them at home. We rallied in the last quarter and we got ourselves into a good position. We felt we strengthened in the summer, but we haven’t kicked on.
But, really, your home form, particularly for your fans, is really important and very much that lack of home wins, especially for a community club, did weigh heavily and you were looking for a kick on this season and it hasn’t happened.
It is very sad, I’ve got the utmost respect for the two guys. Jim and Billy are probably the most hard-working people I’ve ever had at the club and they are two of the nicest people. To me, this was a big decision.
Out of respect to Jim, I haven’t done anything, but I’ve had a lot of applications today. For Ross County, survival in the Premiership is success. If we get to the top six, it is ultra-success. You’ve got to manage expectations at my club because you’re representing a small community and you mustn’t let expectation get beyond reality.
But we’re a club that’s growing and the criteria that I had three years ago when I appointed Jim will be slightly different today because we’ve moved on, we’ve won a cup, aspirations will be different.
I spent half an hour with Jim yesterday. We talked it through. Jim will naturally be very disappointed and felt that he could have got another three or four games and luck may have turned.
My business employs 5,000 people, so I deal with these situations every day. I am not making stupid decisions. Yes, you can make wrong decisions. That’s life and time will tell whether it is the right one.
Academy director Steve Ferguson will replace Jim McIntyre on an interim basis, as he did several years ago when Derek Adams left the club.